14 Feb 2018 - 1:14
Garcia survives Cibulkova scare as Muguruza advances
DOHA: Caroline Garcia weathered a mid-match surge from Dominika Cibulkova to make her way into the third round of the Qatar Total Open yesterday.
The No.7 seed kept the pressure after dropping the second set to win 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-0 after just over two hours.
“To lose the second set was very tough, so I started the third set a bit down,” Garcia admitted in her post-match interview. “But she gave me free points and I just realized I needed to be more aggressive. I put more pressure on her and so I’m just happy that the third set went this fast!”
The last time Garcia and Cibulkova faced off was in Wuhan last year, where the Frenchwoman emerged victorious in two tight sets en route to lifting the trophy. That result galvanised Garcia’s season, leading her to claim back-to-back titles in China, qualify for the WTA Finals and rise to her career highest ranking of World No.7.
Garcia’s relentless offense was the key to her victory, and it was led by her strong serving. The Frenchwoman struck 12 aces and 45 winners, staying in the positive compared to her 28 winners. As a result, she converted seven of the eleven break chances she created. Meanwhile, Cibulkova struck 17 winners and 25 unforced errors.
Up next, Garcia will play either No.11 Kristina Mladenovic or Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova in the third round.
Earlier, former WTA World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza shook off some of her early season struggles to earn a 6-3, 6-4 win over Duan Ying-Ying.
Muguruza was playing her first event since a surprise second round loss to Hsieh Su-Wei at the Australian Open. After racing out to a set and 5-1 lead, the Spaniard needed eight match points to seal off the Chinese veteran and advance into the second round after 87 minutes on court.
The reigning Wimbledon champion recently announced her decision to re-add Conchita Martinez to her coaching team; Martinez was with Muguruza during her triumphant Wimbledon fortnight last summer.
“She’s going to bring a lot of experience on how to handle tournaments and tough moments. When you aim for the best, you need the best team!
A quarter-finalist in 2016, Muguruza struck 14 winners while withstanding 22 from the always aggressive Duan, maintained a 71% first serve percentage and broke serve four times to advance into the third round for the second time in three years.
Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova breezed through her first-round match against Cagla Buyukakcay yesterday, losing just four points out of a total 28 played in the first set.
Kvitova -- currently ranked 21 in the world as she continues her return to top-class tennis following a horrific knife attack just over a year ago -- won 6-0, 6-3.
The first set took just 19 minutes to complete, the whole match less than an a hour.
The 27-year-old Czech player said the easy victory may have been down to her late arrival in Doha.
She plays Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in round two, in a high-quality field.
Nine of the world’s top ten players are in Qatar, with many just outside the highest rankings also competing.
Among those is world number 11, Britain’s Johanna Konta, who beat American Bernarda Pera 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 yesterday, getting instant revenge on the woman who surprisingly knocked her out of last month’s Australian Open.
There were also victories for world number 10 Julia Goerges from Germany who beat Lucie Safarova 6-1, 7-5, a former Qatar champion.
Top seeds and the world’s numbers one and two, Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep, both play today.